Among the Mungbean Militia: The front line of anti-Adani activism

From an undisclosed camp within the Bowen region, a convoy of activists set off after dawn on Tuesday for the first step in a campaign of direct civil disobedience. Their target, the controversial Carmichael coal Mine proposed by the Indian mining group, Adani.

Protesters peacefully blockaded the road into Abbot Point Coal Terminal, disrupting workers from arriving on shift and giving themselves a visible presence from the heavily trafficked Bruce Highway.

A large but diplomatic police contingent faced off against the protest, with several national and regional media crews also in attendance. At the request of a protest banner, passing traffic was invited to ‘Beep to Stop Adani’. However, the honks received were a mixed response, with a middle finger accompanying several of the horn blasts.

After several hours of police negotiations, ten activists who refused ‘move-on’ orders were subsequently arrested and the blockade came to an end. Cries of support erupted from the remaining protesters as those arrested were taken from the scene in police paddy wagons.

Locals seem divided on the issue of the coal mine, and also the anti-Adani campaign. Many of the regional towns-people see the proposed mine as a much-needed economic life-blood and view the protesters as outsiders who don’t understand their local issues.

A weeklong series of actions and training has been planned, with the campaign now taking the next step into the realm of non-violent direct actions. Activists from many backgrounds have come together; from local indigenous Juru landowners, locals from North Queensland, to people from across Australia and around the world—all allied in the fight to stop Adani.

Traditional land owner Aunty Carrol Prior says she is proud and thankful for everyone’s support, in a once solitary fight she began years ago. In what is expected to be a lengthy campaign, an emboldened spirit is necessary. Despite her 71 years, Aunty Carol has vowed to fight to the end. “When I can’t see, I can’t walk and can’t talk, that’s when I’ll stop fighting”.

Strengthened by what they view as a successful first action, protesters bounce along the corrugated dusty road back to their secret camp to celebrate the release of the arrestees, and to plan their next action.


Image: 'Camp Babirra' (Echinda in the local language) in a secret location in the Bowen region. @EliahLillis

Reporting by Miriam Deprez and Eliah Lillis